Israeli company weaves new jobs into North Carolina

Israeli textile manufacturer Shalag will invest $17m. in a new plant and fly over to teach American workers the technology.   Galilee-based textile manufacturer Shalag is now building a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina. An Israeli textile company has …

Israeli textile manufacturer Shalag will invest $17m. in a new plant and fly over to teach American workers the technology.

 

Shalag-Plant

Galilee-based textile manufacturer Shalag is now building a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina.

An Israeli textile company has decided to invest $17 million in building a new manufacturing facility in Oxford, North Carolina that will create up to 100 jobs there at above-average salaries.

In just about any Johnson & Johnson-made diaper, wet wipe or feminine hygiene product you’ll find elements of Shalag’s Israeli-made nonwoven textiles, Ilan Pickman, manager of the company headquartered at Kibbutz Shamir, in Israel’s Upper Galilee region, tells ISRAEL21c.

The new manufacturing facilities, to be located in Granville County, will be operated as an American entity called Shalag US and the company hopes the move will help to extend its nonwoven textiles business into the North American market. Shalag already has extensive contracts and business dealings with companies such as Kimberly and Clarke and Nicepak in Europe, Pickman relates.

“Our product is in competition all over the world, even in China,” says Pickman. “Based in North Carolina, I think [our clients] will receive much better service and the commercial prices will be competitive. This will be the first line, and we will be sending Israelis to educate and transfer the knowledge.”

Israel invests in America

The learning process takes time, Pickman tells ISRAEL21c, explaining the reason why the company is planning to invest in workers in North Carolina with higher-than-average levels of education who are expected to learn the job and stay for the long haul. That’s why starting salaries will be about $6,000 higher than the average salary per year in similar manufacturing facilities in the state, which is around $33,000 before benefits.

The new facility will be managed by an American and Shalag plans to hire 42 people when the plant opens at the end of 2010, and to expand to up to 100 employees over the next few years, says Pickman. “We are offering salaries above the average because we want to get highly-educated people in the plant. It’s important to us that the workers will be committed for the long run.

“We’ll be investing in their education, too, and to operate this kind of line is a long-term kind of education,” adds Pickman, who hopes the company will be selling commercial products by Christmas next year.

Founded in 1984, Shalag is a public company, traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Shalag doesn’t manufacture finished consumer products; its materials are used in the outer lining of sanitary pads, as components of diapers and in wet wipes.

Shalag executives hope that the move to North Carolina will provide a strong foothold in the US market, as Pickman explains: “As of today, our share in the North American market is quite small. Our intention is to grow by making this plant there. It will be easier to make and sell our supplies locally.”

Currently, Shalag manufactures its raw material at its Israeli facility where it employs 110 people. The raw product is condensed into rolls and shipped by sea as freight that takes four or five weeks to reach the US. A new plant in the US will reduce delivery time and transport fees.

Not the first Israeli company in North Carolina

The announcement of a new facility to be built in Oxford was hailed by the state’s Governor Bev Perdue, the first woman governor of North Carolina. “North Carolina is home to more nonwoven textile plants than anywhere else in the United States, and the US is home to more nonwoven textile plants than anywhere else in the world,” Perdue declared, adding, “Our business-friendly policies, superb quality of life and skilled, productive workforce are helping companies build success in our state.”

Shalag is not the first Israeli company to bring new jobs to the American state. In November, Perdue announced that an Israeli-owned foam manufacturer, PalZiv North America would be opening and operating a new facility in North Carolina, creating 72 jobs.

PalZiv North America is wholly owned by Palziv, which is headquartered in Israel. The company already has distribution points in Ohio in the US, as well as in Romania, Canada and Israel. PalZiv makes foam for insulation, packing, toys, prosthetics and various other consumer applications.

Stimulus grants from the state through the One North Carolina Fund provided the incentives for both Israeli companies to open new facilities in the region. North Carolina, which boasts an educated workforce, is looking to attract manufacturers who will invest in creating opportunities for local people.

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About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman lives in Jaffa, Israel. She is a journalist, writer and blogger who focuses on the environment and clean technology from Israel and the Middle East. Published in hundreds of newspapers around the world, Karin also writes for the Huffington Post and Green Prophet.